Part 19: World is Mine






Supply Corps: I won't say anything if you don't!

Phew... looks like everything's okay. I'll trust you with the repairs and let Kirino know about our success! Over and out.



Another successful outing! How's it looking, Miya?



Looking just fine, thanks to you.



The SDF and doctors are in the Clinic now. You should go see how it's turned out.



And the head on Residential B is ready to see you, as well.

Thank you!



With a new residential floor comes new quests, natch! All these dai pinch-tachi have got you all wound up! You gotta take a load off with community service!

What have we got on the itinerary?






Let's Working!



A sweet little otome-chan told me she saw people while fleeing Ikebukuro! What do you say to that heart, huh?

Ah, awfully kind of her. She's on the new floor?

Hai, haiii! You better go scope the sitch hayonto!



...This one is already tiring me out.

Refugee life's full of worries, so we've had a puzzling group pop up! You believe in Kami-sama? Testify!

If there's a cult of some sort in the area, it'd be best to settle the situation as quickly as possible. No doubt many frightened refugees have already been swayed by the promise of some form of higher purpose.

Your client-san wants you to give her tomodachi a dose of shinjiality!



Oh, come to think of it, we should check the flea markets.



Forlorn Girl: It's a First Aid Pack 2... stuff like Somanels... and Nano-Fixes... Heal Aeros too.

All fine purchases.

We'll take it!

Forlorn Girl: Oh... y-you're trading with me again? Thank you so, so much!

Specifically, it's 900 Az for 7 Heal Aero 2s, 5 Somanels, and 5 Nano-Fixes. A great deal!

Crafty Woman: As for me, ladies, I'm offering eight sets of ingredients for 300 Az. Sound like a steal? Because it is.

Wow, these look to be in pretty good condition. Where'd you get these?

Crafty Woman: My title doesn't lie.

...What title?

It is, in fact, literally 8 units of Ingredients for 300 Az.



Crafty Woman: You can come cook here if you want. We're friends, so it's cool.

I hadn't even considered that. Mio's been wanting to get some practice in, so I might have to take you up on that offer.



It really does look a lot better. This building is really starting to shape up!



Doting Mother: My son—Takashi is his name—yes, the Takashi you found me looking for? I can't stop worrying about him...

I understand the feeling, but please don't get yourself killed by going out there alone. You know how dangerous it is.



Ah, another flea market.



Calm Girl: Gloom Cut... 500 Az okay?

...A... a what?

Calm Girl: Gloom Cut.

As it turned out, when I made the purchase, it was a doll of the Pokemon Kusaihana. Evidently its English name was 'Gloom'. This was liable to make a certain someone happy, even if it wasn't a bug.

It's another status ailment accessory—this time for an ailment we haven't encountered yet. Gloom doubles the Mana cost of skills.



Mother.

Mrs. Nagataka: Oh, come on, Koron. You find your father and now I'm yesterday's news?

...What? Did I say something wrong?

She's been taking very good care of us, Mrs. Nagataka. How have things been going with you?

Mrs. Nagataka: Oh, you know, little of this, little of that. The life of a busybody is never done, haha! So, with that in mind, I went and picked up this pair of snazzy sunnies! Guaranteed to make it harder for dragons to blind you roughly fifty percent of the time.

Once a telemarketer, always a telemarketer. Why would a pair of sunglasses have that sort of effect?

Mrs. Nagataka: Why can you shoot fire from your brain, dear?

That's a false equivalence. I—

Why would any accessory protect us from anything?

...I can't deny that, but I don't even have eyes.

Mrs. Nagataka: Aw, come on, honey bunches. Do you not remember that one time? You were fighting that ornery psychic who was trying to take out the hospital—?

Gah! Don't make me sound like some kind of do-gooder!

I want to hear about this!*

It's a Blind Cut for 1000 Az. We are fairly close to the one point in this video game at which Blind is an actually big deal. Good timing!

*For context, please see IseKano 4th Volume, 3rd Story: Year 4's Another ~ The Girl Whose Mind Breathed Fire.





'Scuse me, miss. We're looking for a pair of job requesters up on Sharon's board?

The schoolgirl near the front of the room perked up immediately.

Asami: Yes, that's me. I'm Asami—Sharon said I could get help for my friend! You're members of Murakumo, right? Please—I've tried everything, and Sachi needs your help!

Calm down. We don't have the information necessary to help your friend.

Asami: Y-yeah, um, sorry... I'm just at my wit's end. Sachi's been my best friend since forever, but she's been seduced by this cult...



Asami: For a while, I thought she was perking up, but... well, the 'Holy Church of the Divine Dragon' eats up all her time these days.

What an ostentatious name.

Asami: I've tried to make her see reason so many times, but she just doesn't listen...



Well, I'm a very smart woman, but logical explanations won't be the most effective against someone swayed by emotions like those lured in by the psychological manipulations of a cult. Is there anyone you had in mind?

Asami: ...She's always looked up to this guy named Shiba. I don't know if he's come to City Hall yet, I haven't seen him—but, please, help me look! You've gotta help me help Sachi!

Well, we'll do all we can.

Asami: Okay, thanks... uh, what's your name?

...Mine? It's, uh, it's Nagataka. Koron.

Asami: Thank you. It means a lot, Koron.



Conveniently, they're both in the same room.

As for you, ma'am?

Quiet Lady: Thank you for coming while you must be so busy... I came here as a refugee from Ikebukuro, but when I was fleeing here, I thought I saw a silhouette—



...That sounds familiar somehow.

Quiet Lady: This was a while ago, so if she was still there when all of the roads were flung around, she might be somewhere high up... I don't think she could survive if she was attacked. Please, help her somehow?

Right, of course.





When we entered the room where the floor's head was staying, I was treated to the familiar moans of a certain foolish Bloom-eater. They were much fainter, but it seemed he still wasn't over his traumatic stomach injury.

Salving Senior: Hm... are you the Murakumo who put this all together for us?

She took a look at the three of us, crossed her arms, and nodded.

Salving Senior: Yup, just as I expected. Got the air of someone ready for trouble. Here, let grandma show you a little trick as a thank-you present.

Um, okay...

Salving Senior: Just do what I do. Take a deep breath, and then—



Tch, did you have to do it so loud?

Salving Senior: If you're ever looking for a certain monster for research purposes or something, this might be helpful. You picked it up quick, kid. Just make sure you can handle it—all our lives depend on yours, y'know.

Out Hunting allows us to at-will trigger a random encounter, no walking in circles necessary. It's also unlimited. How nice! That's the last particularly of-note thing in Residential B for the time being, though.



Put up or shut up, grandpa.

I am now going to make a complaint. In the Quest log in the menu, the game displays a small bit of advice for what to do next in a quest.



Here is the one to go find Shiba. Please note the exact wording.



Can you guess where Shiba is? Until then, here's some highlights from me looking for him.



...



...I'm sorry.

Lovestruck Worker: ...



Could he be on this floor...?

Oh! We need to check in here anyway!









We found Richter assisting with organization of supplies in the back, with the chief doctor.

Oh! Hello, everyone.

Doctor: Ah, is it already time for you to leave? I'm beginning to understand how Kirino feels.

Unfortunately, yes. How did the excursion out to the Expressway go?

We'll tell you later, we have a few errands to run.

How are you finding the place, Doctor?

Doctor: Well, a lot of the doctors here are a little odd, and a bit unreliable... like yours truly, but really, thanks for the place. We're determined to save every life we can. Here—got something for you.



Is this a rosary?

Doctor: We've got a superstitious type somewhere around here—he said to give it to you, and that it'll help if something tries to take you out in one fell swoop. 'Evil, begone!' or something like that, right?

It's Instant Death. Instant Death appears in... basically exactly one fight in this game. This is also conveniently timed.

How's Major Dojima?

Doctor: She's in the next room over, if you'd like to go see her.





Quite.

Private Sakon: You were out there so late, you missed a really great dinner. What a shame.

...Did you save any for me, Richter?

Of course, ma'am.

Private Makita: Hey, about that last operation... the commander really acted like a commander, huh?



Genji probably did most of the work.

Private Makita: Well, we all want to say thank you, so on her behalf, too... thanks for keeping us alive.

I'm really glad to see you all okay. Let's keep working together.

Private Sakon: Well, we've got meds to treat Rin's condition now, but no telling when she'll wake up... still. Couldn't be worse than Captain Sleeping Beauty, right?

H-hey!

Snrk.





The sedatives appear to be working... You've all had a really long day. Once you're finished with whatever you need to do, please sleep soundly tonight. Over and out.

---------------------------



...so 'Hunters'? That's the word they used?

Unless I misheard them. I don't mishear things.



...Is he here?



Well, I didn't doubt it! She's a real go-getter, that Haru.

Haru: Reimi was... really going berserk. She's a total maniac about armor. It's... kinda scary.







The proper thing to do would be to make use of them right back, no?

Tetsu: I never thought about it that way! 'Course, I would've done it anyway.





Have either of you two seen a man named Shiba?

...? No.

Not that I can remember?

Okay, thanks.







Bossy Scientist: ...Er, I mean, from a scholarly standpoint, of course! Haha, ha.



Cute Scientist: Hehe! I helped put them together, though I only did a little... But I'm so glad I could help everyone, and be of use to so many people!

Are you single?

Cute Scientist: Er... what?



...He's Dad's type, you see.

He looked like he was going to have a heart attack.





JOHN: ALONG WITH THE SDF, I'LL DO MY BEST TOO!

ALWAYS APPRECIATED, SIR!



Private Saneda: I mean, I'm a comms guy. When I get an awful report, it's... really hard for me to relay, you know?



I really wish Satsuki were here!

At that point, Satsuki jumped in through the window.

YOU RANG

GAH

Oh! Um, Satsuki, do you know where a man named Shiba might be?

Shiba? Oh yeah, he's right outside, why?



...Oh, he was right there the whole time.

AND IT SAYS IN CITY HALL EVEN THOUGH HE'S OUTSIDE CITY HALL AND I SPENT FIF-TEEEEEN MINUTES LOOKING FOR THIS BOZO GOIN UP AND DOWN EVERY FLOOR LIKE A YAHOO AND

i'm good at video games desu ne



Good day, sir. We've been asked to find you on Asami's behalf.

Shiba: The Unit 13 was asked to?

Our captain is a chronic do-gooder.

Shiba: That must be tough.

I've gotten used to it.

Shiba: If it's about Sachi... I already saw her, and I know she's with that weirdo sect. She used to stop and chat when I said hi... but lately we don't talk when I see her. I've tried persuading her, but I haven't made any progress either.

Of course you haven't. That's how cults work, you know. The indoctrination can only properly take effect if they convince the sap in question that everyone outside of the cult is incorrect or untrustworthy. It's an 'us vs. them' mentality that they need to implant, you see.

Shiba: ...Still. I want to get Sachi back to normal, too. She's a good, sweet kid at heart. Hold on—a letter might be able to reach her. Gimme a second to write one.





Shiba: Okay, that'll do. You can probably find Sachi by the entrance. Seems like they do their daily prayers there. I... think this is all I can do.

How have I not noticed this before?

Wait, you haven't?

You have?

I notice a lot, Cap.





Yup, that's our mark.

Would you happen to be Sachi?





From a man named Shiba. It's for you.

She shook her head at us.



Sachi: The Founder's words are the only thing that can save my soul in the next life—

Oh, I'm so shocked. Really flabbergasted. You're not even going to read it, huh? After we ran all the way around the building time after time looking for the bastard to get him to write the letter?

Sachi: ...Who are you?

'Mneh mneh, the Founder's words are the only thing that can save my souuul in the neeext liiife.' Do I look like I have the long legs necessary to make this building easy to traverse? It might have an elevator, but that's still a lot of walking around these large floors, you know.

Sachi: Listen, you need to leave. I don't know—





Sachi: Yes, my Founder!

Founder: Pitiful, immoral, unenlightened people. What errand have you with my flock?



What kind of title is 'Founder'? Founding something is one thing, but it doesn't exactly give much confidence in your ability to run a religious organization.

Founder: I did not name myself Founder. It's simply what my believers call me.



...The fuck did you just say to me? Oh, please, sir! Enlighten me.



Founder: The Dragon God burns this world, and why? Because it has been irrevocably tainted! The grasping ogres we call humanity shall be purified, by the Dragon God's teeth—and then, a new world summoned forth! Yet you fail to see the honor he does us—

Baaaaaaaaaahahahahahahaha!!

I had never seen Koron laugh quite this hard. She actually bent over by the stomach to wheeze as she cackled.

Ohhh, great Founder, you're killin' me here! Oh, PLEASE tell me the rest of you are hearing this. Why, we're all going to get eaten by dragons, hm? How do you feel about electromagnetic railguns, oh great Founder? Dying of horrific toxic sludge, maybe? Oh, or maybe being burnt to a crisp by a fireball!

Founder: ...Excuse me, ma'am?

Hi. Koron Nagataka. I've been party to killing dozens of dragons now, so I can tell you what it's like.

You really think those are divine, hm? Why don't you walk out onto the battlefield and look one in the mouth yourself if you're so brave? Your lack of experience really shows—even one as obviously idiotic, albeit skilled in manipulation, as yourself no doubt has the inherent survival instinct to realize that, say, the streets of Shibuya, where four-legged drakes ready to gore you with their horns, or fire-breathing wyverns, or dragons whose cores bubble with noxious liquids unlike anything borne of Earth, are a place that are nothing even remotely resembling divine. Corpses line the streets! You really mean to tell me that seeing our comrades in the SDF burnt to a crisp, their flesh fusing with the tracks in Ikebukuro, that's divine providence because humanity itself is somehow 'tainted'? How is it tainted, Founder? Hm? Please, inform me! I'd love to have a debate on the relative value of humanity!



YEAH, YOU BETTER RUN! Coward!

Founder: There are... too many unenlightened here. Let us decamp to the old Shelter.

Sachi: Yes, Founder.



Sachi: Asami probably put you up to this, right? Please, go tell her that I'm very happy now.



...I'm not sure what I could've said there, but I'm also not sure I had the chance.

Koron, are you... okay?



Haha... ha. Haha.

Fine. I'm fine. What?

Unironically that's the maddest I've ever seen you.

Of course it was. He said Koron didn't understand something.



You're sure you're alright?

I'm fine.

Hi. It didn't go well.

Asami: What?! What did she say?!

And I quote, "Please, go tell her that I'm very happy now."



Oh, trust me! I know!

Asami: Well... being angry won't solve anything. Thank you for trying.

We receive 700 Az and an SP Up 100 from Asami.

Asami: Their numbers have been growing lately... They're so shady, but I guess people feel that uneasy. What... what can I do for Sachi?

Unfortunately... all you can do is keep chipping away.

If you want my unprofessional opinion, from the look in her eyes I could tell she isn't completely a sap. I'd say there's hope yet, if you're careful about it.

Asami: ...Thank you, Koron. You're a really nice person.

Geh!

Kind, maybe, but 'nice'? I think you have me confused with someone else.

Asami: Well... it's just the feeling I get.

it's true

Ugh. I'll stop by tomorrow and we can brainstorm.

Asami: Thanks. I really like your cape, by the way.





Awww. I think Koron just made a friend!

Say that again, Chisa. I dare you. I fucking dare you.

tsundere. tsundere baby. tsunde



wait did they say they were going to the shelter

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

Satsuki leapt out the window at lightning speed, managing to somehow land on her feet and bolt all the way over to Shibuya. It took... I'd say about ten minutes for her to get back.



OKAY OKAY OKAY

OKAY. Okay. So we're gonna have to be a little more careful when we hang out at the Shelter's all. They took up the infirmary over at the Shelter, the one with all the beds? They didn't use the storage room Unit 4 was using or the old meeting room for much, so thankfully I was able to move my stuff without much issue, but we are going to have to be a little stealthier because they have people sitting around at the front and I want to keep my interaction with cultists to a minimum, please. The effect they had on Yugioh 5D's's plot progression was bad enough.

Breathe, Satsuki. Breathe.

Satsuki's panting was heavy and a bit wheezing.

This actually does have a slight gameplay ramification. The infirmary room we first woke up in in the Shelter? It's now locked off, so that bed is no longer available. Your only nap point is now your room at City Hall, which isn't a BIG deal but sometimes it was convenient to just run in there and juice up, you know? Damn cultists.



Odd to come back so soon, but we do need to save anyone who's still here.








Oh! Oh my gosh! Hello! ARE YOU OKAY?!





Carefree Woman: When that huge cannon fired, I got stuck over here! Please help me! I don't wanna fall!!!!!



This place is awful. I hate it.

What follows is me chungling about for a bit trying to locate our quarry. Thankfully, this time it's fine—we're heading over to where we fought the third Electrolaser with Major Dojima.









No way.



Way! Way! It's way! Yes way!

A girl in a fancy dress... she must be the one! Go help—

ON IT, MA'AM!





Just a plain old wyvern. Shouldn't be much trouble.



OW. Bastard!!

Though it's not as chunky as Jigowatt, Wyvern isn't a pushover—it does have 1500 HP and not-unreasonable stats, plus its own Fire Breath. That said, it's nothing new—if you're this far, you can take it. With that said,



Chesto!

Three of its first four attacks are single-target Fang attacks, so Youka makes short work of its health pool. Chisa and Koron help.



OH MY GOSH! OH MY GOSH OH MY GOSH! THE Hatsune Miku! In the flesh! Guys guys guys guys, it's Miku! We just saved Miku! Aaaaaaaa

That's the... you know, the one singer with the voice that sounds like it's fake?

Don't say that in front of her!

I mean, it's no judgment. I know she's popular.

Ohhh, Mio is going to be SO EXCITED. Miss Hatsune, my girlfriend, Mio, she's a huge fan of yours—she uses your public voicebanks to compose songs, you know how it is, she goes by 'Bathori-P' in composing circles, have you heard any of her songs?

...?





I'm Chisa, and this is Satsuki, and Koron, and Richter, and Youka, we're Unit 13 of Murakumo and we fight the dragons. We're going to be taking you back to City Hall, and it's safe there, no worries, we have plenty of people there, we're working with the SDF, everything is going to be fine. You have my word! I'm very competent.

Mmhm.

AAAAAAAA MIKU NODDED AT ME

I started burying my face in my sleeves, wailing about. You—you really must understand, Miku is wonderful. A treasure.

Be cool, Chisa. You're the commander of a military unit.

I'M NOT COOL. I HAVE NEVER BEEN COOL. ANYONE CLAIMING I WAS EVER COOL IS LYING.

We, uh... we returned to City Hall.






No problem, no problem at all, ma'am! None! No problem. Happy to help! It's what we do.



Oh, wait—We need to find her a doctor! ...sigh She didn't look injured, so I guess it's okay...



Chisa, you're vibrating.

did you have a crush on miku as a kid

DID YOU NOT SHE'S PRETTY AND HER SONGS ARE NICE

no no, i get it. i've got a miku playlist. that said my childhood crushes were mostly from video games and anime.

For instance. Have you ever just looked at Archer Fate/Stay Night's pecs? Those are some nice pecs. OTOH, Sprocket Viewtiful Joe can schedule my appointments any day, nahmsain?

I don't know who those are.

Lay Fire Emblem, now there's a dude who's my type. I mean, he's a catboy, of course he'd get me. The only reason I don't get Ike/Lay in Radiant Dawn every time is because I think Ike/Senerio is a more compelling arc. Plus, if Lay is single that means I can date him. Steamy OC/Lay fics.

Now if you want to get deeper into RPG women, despite its questionable attitude towards fanservice, the first two Ar Tonelico games, specifically the first two, now there are some amazing women in those, and I think like half the weebs who fell in love with Jakuri when they were younger turned out to be trans, though I mean she IS best girl, no question. Plus I mean, she lives in a place called the Cat Mansion? Now, of course, one might think that Soraneko would be my favorite since her name has 'neko', and I do love her. Actually, I love most of the women in AT2. AT2's a good game, man.

It is.

i'm glad my fellow otaku understands me

...Does it count if I thought Jakuri was the best character when I played the game as a teenager shortly before I—?

yes



Yes, she is. Apparently she's a famous singer.

Quiet Lady: Well, that's wonderful. Even with so little to go on, you managed to save her... I'm really grateful to you. Please, take this as a thank you.

We get two SP Up 200s, as well as...



Quiet Lady: I can finally breathe easy... Whether it's someone I know or not, I hate to see anyone pass away.



Oh, one more thing we should check on. Quests're finished for the day, Sharon!

Ohhh, Sharon-san knows. Koron-chan's atsui attack was right over there!

How's the north tower's top floor coming along?

About that.



The Prime Minister himself came down and insisted that we finish it posthaste. We've got it in a... walkable state. He seemed excited about that woman you brought back, so he asked us to acquire a few specific supplies.



...Wait.

You can't be serious.



Apparently, the... 'superintendent' wishes to thank you in person.

We're using an entire floor for one person?!



Oh man oh man, I gotta go let Mio know!!!!



MIO YOU'LL NEVER GUESS WHO JUST GOT RESCUED.

Someone who justifies an entire floor getting used?





Noooo...?

But anyway!! Anyway!! Hi!!



Hi. I made a better bento this time. I didn't have much else to do.

Oh, thanks.

60 HP recovery to everyone makes Home Bentos our current best multi-target healing! Very nice.

ANYWAY IT'S MIKU. MIKU HATSUNE.

Domino's Miku Hatsune? Dating the PR rep of international anime streaming site Crunchyroll Miku Hatsune? World is Mine Miku Hatsune?

The. Very. Same.

Don't pull my leg, babe.

I'm not pulling your leg. Come on. Come on come on.



Hm, good acoustics. Very nice.



It's a bit, eh, labyrinthine.



It serves as a storage room, if nothing else.



What.

Whaaaaaaaat

Hi.

Oh my god it's Miku Hatsune. I'd recognize that voice anywhere. Here she is.

...In the... flesh. Huh.

Hi! What? Why do you have an entire floor?

I don't know.

Understandable! You wanted to see us?



You sure are, Miku.





Hey, so you know those (DIVA) things under each music doot in the LP so far? I'm sure several of you never thought to click on them aside from the music note, thinking they were just stylistic. Surprise! They're not! There is an entire alternate version of the soundtrack with Miku on vocals for each track that you can freely switch between in the Options. The (DIVA) links in the LP link to the Diva versions of each track. If you've missed that, why not go back and give them a listen? Overall I prefer having the regular OST, but there are some banger mixes in the DIVA soundtrack.



No problem, ma'am! Enjoy your floor!

Mmhm.

------------------------------------------

After that, we all retired to bed. Thankfully, I was able to sleep in my own this time.



...temporarily, anyhow.

Kirino.

Sorry, were you asleep?

I was dozing, but I can get up. What is it?

Oh, sorry. Ms. Hikasa's just been asking me to ensure your health and take some readings after the missions today, if that's alright?

Well, I can't deny we took a pounding today. That railgun hurt.



The accommodations are a bit rough, but you've really made the place home, huh?

I try. It's not terrible, living here. I don't mind being near so many people. It's nice to wake up and wave to friendly faces each and every day.

Aside from your family's.

Well, Mom's smiling a lot of the time anyway. And it's nice to have Mio around. I have about everyone I need.

...Really. Huh.

Something wrong?

I, uh, guess it's not my place to pry.

You're curious about the Inomikos.

Deathly.

I... haven't returned to that home in four years now. Nor have I spoken with my birth parents.

What about your b—oh, um.

My blood pressure was apparently healthy.



Okay, no problems. Must be nice having such resilient bodies. If I were built like you, I'd be out on the front lines, too, y'know.

Aha. What would you do, though?

Oh, you know. Maybe... jump around, hit 'em with a Rider Kick or something? Put on a pair of sunglasses and come up with a cool nickname for myself.

Ahaha! Fun. I'm sure having a Kamen Rider about would be very useful.

Ahaha. Well, that's enough chatter from me. I'll stop bothering you.



Circumstances aside, I'd actually been hoping we could talk some more, Kirino. I know your envy of me having Richter in my unit must be intense, but I don't dislike you in the slightest. And you really do have my sympathies about Mom.

...I'm, uh, I'm glad.

He averted his eyes slightly.

I don't know if you noticed, but I'm a bit... taciturn. Not good at opening up.

You seem to be doing fine to me, Kirino.

...Not to pry, but... how do you feel about Ms. Hikasa?

I had to think about that one a bit.

Well, I don't think she's necessarily... well, hm. That's a bit of a complicated question. I think that I, personally, can rely on her—I know Mom trusts her a lot, and I don't think she bears me any particular ill will, since we are just about family, right? So, in that sense, as my mother's friend, I like her. On the other hand, objectively speaking, she's a terrible person, and Mom made a good point to me yesterday when she said that Natsume seems a bit blind to particular options she has available because of her cavalier attitude toward human life. So... it's complicated, yeah.

I see.



She... has plenty to apologize for, yes, but I don't think that that's any reason to hate her. So... if she were in danger—?

Of course I'd help her. I know she has several enemies, obviously, but... well, it's thanks to her I was given a berth for my coma, and the opportunity to fight the Dragons. I think it's difficult to truly judge people based on their behavior in a true disaster like this, if you catch my meaning?

Right, right.



Plus you have that little crush on her.

Wha—?



I mean, yes, she's attractive, but—I mean, even if I did, it's not because of her physical attractiveness, you know? It's because she's Murakumo, heart and soul!

Hehe. Just kidding.

Look, she—Ms. Hikasa doesn't... favor military science, or rote book learning. She favors the scientific method.



...Huh?

By slightly altering her genetic data, they were able to create a prodigy with phenomenal working memory. She isn't good enough to be considered 'S-Class', like the five of you, though honestly I think it's best to have someone A-Class with a broader view, like her, in charge of an operation like this.

...I... didn't know.

Oh, well... you know. I don't... I mean, I don't think she tells people often.

Does Mom know that?

I should hope so, considering how long they've known each other.

...wait, was Mom—?

No! No. Dr. Akaneno's genetics weren't altered. It's a testament to the differing philosophies of their families, I suppose. The Hikasas have governed 'talent' for generations with Murakumo, so...

Right. If you could create people with these particular talents, there would be no need to search. If research progressed far enough like that, you could eventually have a society where you knew exactly what a given person would be best at from the moment they were born.

...That's a surprisingly high-concept thought.

Well, I have thought about it. Ever since I learned about Jeanne and Miroku, I've been considering the whole concept. 'Creating' talent...

Well, I doubt you could ever 'create' an S-Class 'adaptability' subject like yourself. Even with all the science in the world, there's something to you.

Hold on. I thought my S-Class talent was my swordplay?

I suppose that's part of it, but... well, after taking genetic readings I had to update our data. What your talent lies in is your ability to adapt to different situations—your body is really something. If you were a cadaver, I'd be in you in a second.



What? Was that a—that was weird. Okay. I actually have a theory about why you fell asleep—earlier today Richter mentioned you lacked several vestigial features of the human bodies like the hiccup reflex, or goose bumps, so I've been looking over old readings of yours. I think your body may have been taking the time to adjust itself to the new situation—despite being in bed for a month, you didn't lose an ounce of combat skill once you got back onto the field. Not to mention, you have the highest resistance to the toxic effects of the Bloom out of any Murakumo operative, despite having hardly come into contact with it before you woke up—and according to my readings, that was true when you first woke up, too.

So... my body kept me asleep to work defense routines to ensure I could survive?

'Adaptability'. The ability to adjust to new conditions. Aside from your weird sword things, it's the best way I could find to describe the essential core of your talent. Whatever drove your body to develop a talent like that, though... I have no idea.

...It could've been the fifteen years I spent as a male farmhand, I didn't say aloud. Scythes and swords aren't exactly analogous weapons in terms of usage. Scythes are much more unwieldy, since they're originally farming tools. A sword, meanwhile, is designed to kill.

Huh. Good to know, I guess.

Well, it's not exactly going to change what we know your observable skillset is. Keep swinging that katana, you're good at it.

On it.

Wait—no. Not right now. You need to go to sleep. You're tired. Go to sleep.



Sorry for talking too much. Back to work for me.

Have a nice night, Kirino.

Will do.

------------------------------






Recovering... thanks to Daigo and Neko, that is.

More like thanks to the Ghost of Yotsuya. Tch... No matter who it is, I hate owing one to the Murakumo.

This is the present. Those Murakumo are just an old story now. 'Unit 13'... they aren't the ones you hate.

Tch... I know! I know we couldn't help dredging up the ghosts of the past this time, either.



...I understand. But the root of your suffering... was me.





Takehaya!

Aha... ahahahahahaha! It's okay. Compared to your suffering... mine's bullshit.

Still...

We're running out of time. We need to test them directly, to see if Unit 13 are the 'Hunters' or not.

...

...And that Ghost of Yotsuya, too... I wonder.

-------------------------------







That's it for Chapter 2. Next time, we go to Chapter 3, the game's fifth chapter, and immediately unlock the next dungeon with absolutely no muss or fuss.

...No, really. We can actually just go there. I'm serious!

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